Green Party Annual Meeting – Speaker Suggestions

The Green Party (US) Annual National Meeting is just over a month away, July 23 – 26, at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina.

The schedule is still being prepared for workshops, plenaries, etc., including potential speakers. Some names have been suggested here and there including Cynthia McKinney, Rosa Clemente, David Cobb, Jesse Johnson, and Mike Gravel.

Who do you think would be a great speaker to speak at the Green Party’s Annual National Meeting in Durham, NC? What should they speak about? What are the driving issues facing the Green Party in the US right now, and who do you think can speak most effectively to those issues? Considering that the primary (and perhaps only) audience for this are the Greens that are going to the ANM, who do you think can speak to the Greens and effectively re-mobilize and re-energize the Green Political Movement in America? Who would you go to Durham, NC to see, listen to, and perhaps even talk to, if they were on the docket?

And finally, are you going to Durham, North Carlina for the National Meeting?

Sure, I’ll start since I asked the question.

First, let me state that I believe that there ought to be a standing invitation for every Green Party ticket for President and Vice President over the last 16 years. That would include Ralph Nader, Winona LaDuke, David Cobb, Pat LaMarche, Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente. These six, in my opinion, have all earned the right to take the soapbox at every Green Party ANM.

Given that, this is a list of people who I would really like to see at the podium to address specifically the Four Pillars of the Green Party:

  • Cynthia McKinney (Peace & Non-Violence) – as our most recent banner carrier, McKinney should speak to the ANM about what direction she believes the Green Party should move in, and the issues that concern her most right now. She should speak on the Palestinian issues, and speak out (stongly) on the Democrat’s Wars in the Middle East.
  • Rosa Clemente (Social Justice) – I am very fond of Rosa, and I think she ought to be the Green Party’s resident motivational speaker. She is powerful and inspiring and should be given a featured slot.
  • David Korten (Ecological Wisdom) – Author of “When Corporations Rule the World”, “The Great Turning”, and most recently “Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth”, Korten may not be a Green Party member (that I know of) but he speaks to our issues and has a very powerful vision for local economies and Green economies that can appeal to the majority of Americans. All Greens should read “Agenda…”, and hear him speak on transforming our society from the current “Empire” to “Earth Community”.
  • Richard Winger (Grassroots Democracy) – Perhaps not a grassroots activist, but Richard Winger, the editor of Ballot Access News, is the national expert on restrictive ballot access issues that keep third parties at a handicap in the American political system. Winger could speak to the current trends in Ballot Access, electoral movements such as the National Popular Vote movement and the notorious “Top Two Primary” system that is in play in Washington and on a future ballot in California.

Some other speakers that I would like to see at the podium:

  • Kathy Kelly – Coordinator for Voices for Creative Non-Violence, Kathy Kelly was one of the most engaging speakers at the 2008 Green Party Presidential Nominating Convention in Chicago. She is an outspoken peace activist, helped initiate the Voices in the Wilderness campaign to end UN sactions against Iraq and create an international human shield prior to the Bombing and Invasion of Iraq. I really like Kathy Kelly.
  • Michael Moore – Yes, Moore irritated Greens in 2004 by backing John Kerry for President, and by getting on his knees and begging Ralph Nader not to run for President on Live TV, however he is one of the biggest public critics of our broken health care system and advocate for a single payer universal health care system.
  • Mayor Bill Bell – I believe that it is a courtesy to invite the Mayor of the city that a convention or large meeting like this to speak to the convention. Durham Mayor Bill Bell is the Chief Operating Officer of UDI Community Development Corporation, Inc, a non-profit with the mission to raise the economic, educational and social welfare of the underpriviledged of Durham.
  • Matt Gonzalez – Honestly I just really like Matt Gonzalez. I had a beer with him a few years ago at Fighting Bob Fest in Baraboo, WI and later heard him rally the crowd of progressives on Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). He is an engaging and inspiring speaker.
  • Jesse Johnson – 2008 Presidential Candidate and Chair of the West Virginia Mountain Party. The mountain top removal mining practices plagueing West Virginia are being continued as “business as usual” by the Obama administration and this must stop. This form of coal mining is an environmental catastrophe and public health issue. Jesse Johnson has been in front on this fight, I’d like to hear him speak about that.
  • Reverend Billy Talen – …of the Church of Stop Shopping, Rev. Billy is a current Green Party candidate for a very high profile office – Mayor of New York City. Exciting, engaging, and loving public speaking, Reverend Billy should be a “must invite” to the ANM.
  • Rebekah Kennedy – this Arkansas Lawyer earned over 20% of the vote for U.S. Senate in Arkansas, the highest percentage gained in a race for Senate by any Green Party candidate prior. Kennedy was helped by the fact that there was no Republican on the ballot, but she also adds a strong 2006 bid for Attorney General in Arkansas where she won 4.4% of the vote.

Thtat’s enough for now. Who would YOU like to see speaking in Durham, NC?

Ronald Hardy


  1. I would recommend a healthy mix of Greens and people who aren’t necessarily yet Green, but would like to see the Greens do more. By listening to this second group, we can learn how best to reach out to the many voters who share our values, but aren’t yet voting Green.

    Some suggestions:

    Omar Lopez: I was very impressed by Omar’s keynote and workshop in Chicago 2008. He clearly has a lot of experience organizing workers and Hispanic people, two demographics that Greens need to work on reaching. His experience with the May day immigrant rallies shows that he knows how to build a formidable coalition and plan demonstrations that make an impact.

    Jason Wallace: I loved two things about Jason’s 2008 campaign. First, his courageous anti-war stance and the way he brought Iraq Veterans Against the War’s demands into the political arena. We need to stand up for mistreated veterans, not just against the wars. Second, his $10K08 campaign. He turned an ostensible weakness (he’s a Green candidate and only raised $10,000) to a strength (he’s only taking small contributions while his opponents are swimming in corporate cash) and got some media for it. That’s the sort of creative thinking that will put Greens on the map.

    Van Jones of Green for All/Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx: These two have done a lot to promote the green economy as a way to bring about environmental and social justice. I think they’re close to Greens in that they see the connections between ecology and social justice. They are also taking that message to some of the poorest inner cities in America, where environmental justice is a very real issue (if you’ve ever breathed in the South Bronx, you probably understand).

    Howard Zinn: who could provide a better historical perspective on grassroots movements in American history? Plus, I want Zinn to be the 2010 MA Green-Rainbow Party candidate for governor.

    Noam Chomsky: brilliant analytical mind. I’d like to hear his thoughts on third party strategy.

    I’ll try to think of more later.

  2. NADER! nuff said…

    The scientifically impossible I do right away
    The spiritually miraculous takes a bit longer


    1. Cynthia McKinney: To address issues as homelessness, unemployment, healthcare

    2. Malik Rahim: To address issues of recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Rebuilding the Gulf Coast, Assisting Katrina survivors

  4. Speakers!

    The Green Party must attact attention in an America with 3000 TV channels!

    Media is power! It grows the Green Party.

    1) Michael Bloomberg would attract and grow party most.

    2) Jesse Ventura, former Gov.

    3) Cindy Sheehan

    4) Congressman Ron Paul – He’d raise hell about the damn wars, and get the media to cover the Green Party meeting.

    5) Georges Marciano (Independent) – Guess Jeans Co-Founder candidate for Gov. in California 2010

    6) Stormy Daniels possible 2010 Independent for U.S. Senate in Lousiana – Actress, Director, Script writer, Film Producer

    7) New Jersey Independents for Gov 2009
    Jason Cullen (Independent) – Riverdale Health Board Chairman
    Chris Daggett (Independent) – Ex-State EPA Commissioner, Ex-US EPA Official & Ex-Republican
    Joshua Leinsdorf (Independent) – Ex-Princeton School Board Member & Political Activist
    Alvin Lindsay Jr. (Independent) – ’08 US Rep. Candidate
    David Meiswinkle (Independent) – Attorney
    Kostas Petris (Independent)
    Gary Steele (Independent) – Attorney
    Gary Stein (Independent) – ’08 US Rep. Candidate

  5. My picks:

    1) Rich Whitney – 2006 (and hopefully 2010) IL GP candidate for Governor

    2) Vandana Shiva – bio-diversity, anti-globalization activist

    3) Peter Tatchell – UK Green Party human rights activist and overall awesome guy!

    4) Elizabeth May – Green Party of Canada Leader

  6. Oh, also:

    5) Bob Brown – Green Party Senator from Australia

    6) Jeanette Fitzsimons – former Green Party of New Zealand co-leader

  7. What about Mike Gravel? He endorsed Jesse Johnson last year, and I think he could be talked into joining the Green Party… especially after the Democrats just passed a war funding bill that even Repubs voted against.

  8. Mike Gravel is in Korea, according to Mrs. Gravel, who I visited last week.

    “Mike is 79, and following his passion to promote the National Initiative.”

  9. I’m pretty sure Mike is back from Korea. A few people are trying to convince him to go to the convention to talk about the National Initiative. I think Pat LaMarche actually offered him a ride down South – he’ll be in Burlington the week before.

  10. Anne Goeke is a beautiful and dedicated Green Party candidate, with much to say.

    We should hear from Anne, who last ran for State Senate in California, and originally co-founded the Penn Green Party.

  11. Cindy Sheehan will not be going. Mike Gravel will probably be going, but it’s not confirmed yet (he’ll probably be at a nearby venue if he does go). That’s my insider info ; )

  12. Everybody mentioned has something to say & is good, fair to midlin at it. I’ve been told I’m a lousy speaker based on the one convention I spoke at in 2008. LPPA/NJ. However it is all the same old losing stuff. You people are going to lose. Just as sure as I’m going to clean up some cat shit tomorrow. You want to win, you should get my ass there & listen well to what I have to say even if I don’t say it well. Whether I’m in NJ wallowing in stray cats or camping & mining gold in CA. Otherwise, join your fellow losers at the LP & BTP. & lose, baby, lose, Good Losers. Practice Makes Perfect.

  13. Even Ron Paul is mentioned. This is such a colossal political blunder and I take it personally as an insult, that it leads me to conclude that you actually do not know what you are doing. The “Dr No” “rEVOLution” is a counterrevolutionary movement. No to most government. Immediately! Absurd! True anarchism must be earned. No to the war, true. But only as part of everything else green. & He is a REPUBLICAN going by their rules & he wound up endorsing Baldwin of the theocratic Constitution Party, both virtually the exact opposite of the Green party. He sucked the air out of the Libertarian campaign. & you would put him speaking at your convention and not me. Absurd! Maybe BOTH of us, where I would be a known counter to him, but not him without me or someone else to counter him. THAT should not get a free pass at a Green convention.

  14. Bill Maher. I don’t agree with everything he’s ever said, because that would be metaphysically impossible. However, he recently said something extremely interesting during an tirade against the current state of our politics:

    “Shouldn’t there be one party that unambiguously supports cutting the military budget, a party that is straight up in favor of gun control, gay marriage, higher taxes on the rich, universal health care, legalizing pot, and steep direct taxing of polluters? …What we need is an actual progressive party to represent the millions of Americans who aren’t being served by the Democrats, because bottom line: Democrats are the new Republicans.”

    Sounds like Bill Maher is searching for the Green Party. Another plus: he specializes in the sort of ‘this is gonna hurt, but someone has to tell you’ sort of stuff that we need to hear.

    Also, I second Nader. He always has something worthwhile to say. Thus, he should always be invited to speak at Green Party gatherings, even though I doubt he’ll ever join the party (or any party, for that matter).

  15. Bill Maher is usually associated with libertarianism.Here he is quoted as calling for a progressive party.& he is talking about millions of alienated voters. Those voters continue to vote for the dems & reps-because they are locked into the lesser of two evils & to vote third party is to throw away one’s vote. The reason for all of this is the Progressive party isineffective/defunct because it is split inton what has become the green & libertarian parties. Roosevelt in 1912 came closest to unifying the progressive party with second place 27% of the vote. He did not run in 1916 % the party collapsed. He may have run in 1920 but died in 1919. Unifying the greens & libs seems impossible. However it is VERY possible to coordinate their vote, which when unsuppressed-liberated- should add up to about 40% which would be a consistently winning plurality in a progressive 40/dem 30/rep 30 race. This is what Maher is talking about.

  16. You might invite me Ross Perot to the Green Party meeting…

    Another good idea would be Theresa Amato..

    she’s gotta book to plug…worthwhiel book too..

    Theresa Amato’s book, “Grand Illusion: the Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny”, released this month, has received praise from both Congressman Ron Paul, and Pat Choate (Ross Perot’s running mate in 1996).

  17. If you invite me I also suggest Richard Winger and Karen Kwiatkowski. Milnes/Kwiatkowski is my first choice fusion ticket. Forget all those Independents. The only Independent that matters is The Progressive Libertarian Alliance Independent ticket of (proposed) Milnes/Kwiatkowski. But this would only be temporary or partial ballot access if the ticket gets endorsed by the GP or LP or BTP. This convention should be about discussing and adopting this winning strategy.

  18. “This convention should be about discussing and adopting this winning strategy.”

    Robert, when and where has this strategy been successful? Please give some examples. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of a winning Green-Libertarian fusion ticket. I do know that there have been hundreds of Greens and Libertarians who won elected office running on only one line.

  19. Gave Schwab, perhaps I should have said potential winning strategy. & in the USA. & most GP & LP victories have been very low level offices. This strategy applies to the Presidential ticket & all higher offices.

  20. If he really wanted to come, he could have submitted a presentation proposal and registered for the convention. Sure would have been more effective than leaving barrages of comments.

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